How to compete against Amazon, Apple & Google? 3 healthcare CEOs on how to compete against the industry's most disruptive forces

A panel of three hospital and health system CEOs discussed strategies to stay competitive against disruptive forces in the healthcare industry Nov. 11 at the Becker's Hospital Review CEO + CFO Roundtable in Chicago.

Panelists included Elliot Joseph, former CEO of Hartford (Conn.) Healthcare; Johnese Spisso, current CEO of UCLA Hospital System and associate vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences; and Teri Fontenot, former CEO of Baton Rouge, La.-based Woman's Hospital.

The panelists emphasized that having multiple points of access in a health system gives them a competitive edge over outside disruptors like large technology companies.

Referring to disruptors like Amazon, Google and Apple, Ms. Spisso said that "they've really focused on developing consumer-centric health and wellness products. But again, I think for health systems, access is key, and we responded in the same way by putting hundreds of points of access out there, ideally within 30 minutes of all of our patients, so that they can walk in and call to come in and get access to primary care very quickly."

In this way, Ms. Spisso said she doesn't see technology companies getting into the primary care space. 

The panelists also agreed that it is key to clearly define and understand your health system's strategy and to focus on that strategy instead of getting too caught up playing defense against disruptors.

According to Mr. Joseph, it's important to ask yourself what kind of organization you're trying to build.

"The answer defines how you proactively craft your strategy to achieve what it is you're trying to become and not allow yourself to fall too deeply into reactive, defensive mode either," Mr. Joseph continued.

Ms. Spisso added that, at UCLA Hospital System, "one of the things that we've really tried to do is reposition ourselves as a leading academic and research science organization. How do we start approaching things a little differently, which means new partnerships with industry, new partnerships with the venture capital world and looking at how we can drive our own innovation and pace of change a lot faster."

However, Ms. Fontenot noted that while staying true to your system's core strategy is important, it is also vital to keep a keen eye on how the landscape is changing.

"Don't be so committed to that plan that you're not constantly surveying the horizon to make sure the landscape isn't changing in a way you hadn't really anticipated," Ms. Fontenot said.

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